I had hoped that I wouldn’t need to write this post. The fact that I have to write it speaks volumes about the kind of world that disabled and other minority people live in.
Up until now, I’d thought that all I’d need to do to create safe space on this blog is to delete outright expressions of nastiness and personal attacks. But I was wrong. There is a more subtle level of disrespect that goes on around disabled people, and in order to keep this space safe, I need to speak to it.
This blog is for the purpose of discussing media representations of disability. As such, it is a space in which disabled people’s perspectives are welcomed, valued, and protected. I welcome comments from everyone, and I want to engage in conversation with nondisabled people about disability issues. But no matter who you are, if you want to comment here, you will need to show respect for disability perspectives. That is not to say that you have to agree with them. (God knows, I don’t agree with everything that anyone says, disabled or not.) In fact, I welcome challenges to my ideas and I thrive on productive disagreement. But in order to have productive disagreement, there has to be respect.
By way of illustration, the following kinds of approaches are not respectful and will result in your losing the ability to post to this blog:
- Stating that people who protest gloom-and-pity depictions of disability are just in denial about the difficulties of disability.
- Dismissing the perspectives of disabled and other minority people as biased and subjective, on the assumption that somewhere in the world, there is someone free of bias and subjectivity.
- Getting into other people’s heads and telling them why they feel as they do, rather than simply speaking to their perspectives and taking them seriously.
- Accusing people who critique representations of disability of being divisive to the community.
- Failing to address the issues raised by the original piece and moving the goal posts by raising issues that have nothing to do with the original piece.
- Disregarding the boundaries of the blog owner or a fellow commenter.
If you want to engage in this kind of disrespect, all you have to do is open up a connection to the Internet and you will find a world of places to do it. This blog is not such a place. It is a safe space for disabled people, and these are my rules for keeping it a safe space.
Thank you in advance for respecting this policy.
© 2012 by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg